Monday, August 1, 2011

Groupon Anyone?

I admit it. I've been on a bit of a Groupon kick lately. Well, really more of a LivingSocial kick it would seem. As you already know, I love finding a good deal. It's even better when they just come to my inbox and I don't even have to look for them :)

Here are a few of my recent purchases:
*Still Waters Lakefront Resort in Branson, MO - $129*
Comes with fully equipped kitchen  :)
King size bed - perfect for cuddling! haha

I decided to take a little vacation when I return from California, and treat myself and someone special to a two-night stay in a cute little resort. Here are some of the amenities:

• New Island Oasis
• 3 Outdoor Swimming Pools
• FREE Paddleboats & Kayaks
• FREE Bikes
• FREE Zoom the Flume Water Slide
• 3 Hot Tubs & 2 Kiddie Pools
• Boat & Jet Ski rentals
• Game Room & playground
• Sand Volleyball
• Boat docks & 2 launches with fishing and swimming platforms
• Picnic tables and barbeque grills throughout property
• Hiking trails

I had been looking into taking a fun little vacation somewhere when I got back just for a couple days. I had looked at lots of places around Eureka Springs (where I REALLY wanted to go), other places around Beaver Lake, and other places in the beautiful Ozarks...but everything that wasn't just a plain ol' hotel room was pretty pricey. I was looking for something a little more quaint with a lot more value. That's when I came across this Groupon Getaway deal :) For $129, we get a two-night stay! I felt like this was a good deal, considering the condo I reserved is regularly priced at $129/night. I could've got it for $116.10/night with my AAA discount, and it appears that they now have a special for the fall for $89/night, but still...$129 is cheaper than $178! While I realize it might be a bit chilly for the lake by the time I get back to the Midwest in late September, I know there is plenty of fun stuff to do in Branson. I'm hoping to hit up Silver Dollar City, and of course the new Titantic Museum! If anybody has any info on how to get cheap tickets to either of these things, please let me know :) I am looking forward to my little outing before hitting school really hard this fall!

Next deal:
*4 weeks of Boot Camp classes!*

Awkward picture, but all I could find was the one listed on the deal website :)
I have heard really good things about these classes. They offer a new set of classes every four weeks in Fayetteville, at two locations. I bought this LivingSocial deal for $49, and the regular price is $199...yikes! I would've never paid $200 to try this class, but I have really wanted to do it, so I'm looking forward to a chance to do it for only $49 :) Classes are 3 days a week - Monday, Wednesday, Friday - and you can go either at 5:30am or 6:00pm. Since I think 5:30am is only supposed to be for sleeping, I will most likely opt for the 6:00pm classes, but hey, flexibility is nice. You can even switch up which times you go on different days for whatever is convenient for your schedule :) I even checked before I bought it to see what the schedule was like for when the four week series begins...looks like a fresh one will be starting October 10th, so shortly after I get back from my internship! Perfect timing, especially considering the expiration date for the deal is in mid-November :)

Slightly disappointing, but still a good deal:
*Illinois River Raft Float Trip from Arrowhead Resort!*

This one was for $11, and it is regularly $22 to float the Illinois River. I should know, because I used to be a river rat in college at NSU. Although I think it used to be $20 and they've increased their rates....jerks. Anyways. This one had a downside: You could only use one coupon for every three people on your trip. It expires at the end of the summer (obviously), but since I knew I was planning on making a trip home in mid-August, I went for it. I convinced my sister that it was what she wanted to do for her birthday celebration (which happens to fall on the weekend I will be home for my friend Jesse's bachelorette party)! So I convinced my mom and other sisters to join in on the fun too. One cool thing about these Groupon/LivingSocial deals, is that most of them have it set up to where if you buy one, then you refer other people and 3 of them buy it, you can get your deal for free. I got really close to getting mine for free, but as my 6th grade teacher, Mr. Thomas, always told us, "Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades." I made a mistake though...I bought one for me and bought one as a gift to give to my birthday sister...what I should've done, is bought one for me, then bought my second gift one through my link...then I could've gotten my free one. Oh well, I learned a valuable group coupon purchasing lesson, right? ;) Anywho...we are excited for the trip! Hopefully we have enough people come out that we actually all get to use our coupons...haha. The party foul: Groupon had a coupon just about a week or two after LivingSocial offered it, but for $10 instead of $11. Bummer.

Last but certainly not least:
*$10 Photo Book!*

This was actually the first internet group coupon purchase I made, and I was particularly excited about this. These books can be a little expensive, but I saw one a couple years ago at a friend's wedding, and I really wanted one! She had a photo book made with pictures of her and her husband to be, and left white spaces around the edges of the photos for people to sign as their guestbook. I thought it was a great idea...because while I'd love to have a record of the guests at my wedding, I can't imagine that years later I'm going to want, much less actually look through, a book full of nothing but signatures. So I really wanted one! They can be a little pricey though, so I really was looking for a way to save some money. Can't beat 10 bucks! This was regularly $34.99, but NWA DealPiggy had it for only $10. I have until the end of December to use it :) Weird thing about this that most of the deals on NWA DealPiggy are only for the northwest Arkansas area (like restaurants and stuff), but this company is actually based out of San Diego. They make the book and just mail it to you. Makes me wonder what other "regional" coupon deals are out there that I could actually use anywhere??? Hmm...

That's all I've bought for now. But I have subscribed to deals from Groupon, LivingSocial and NWA DealPiggy, so I wake up every morning with an inbox full of new deals. Most of the time I just browse, but you never know when you'll find something you can't pass up!

Now for some tips on group coupon purchasing:
1) Always read the fine print. Sometimes they'll getcha on something like a limitation of how many coupons can be used, expiration dates, etc.
2) Call ahead and ask questions. For example, if it says you can or need to schedule something, call ahead to make sure the dates/times that you want to use the group coupon are in fact available.
3) Share your deal after you purchase it. Most of them have the offers where you can get yours free if 3 people purchase it from your referral. Can't beat free.
4) Double check ACTUAL prices online or something before you go for the purchase. Sometimes they fib a little on the when I bought the Branson Resort deal, they said it was a $129 coupon that the original price was $289. Keep in mind that some prices are seasonal, so you might not actually be getting as good of a deal as they claim. Just do your research :)
5) Read comments/questions from other customers. Most deals have a link to some sort of discussion board. This is a good way to find out what kind of service you can expect once you make your group coupon purchase, and you can tell in advance if the company you're are buying something from is actually someone you'd like to do business with.

Anybody else out there fond of group coupon deals? What good deals have you come across? And what experiences have you had when you actually use your coupon?

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